Saturday, the Michigan women’s soccer team was plagued by its inability to finish against Purdue. Finally, in sudden-death overtime, the Wolverines broke through for a 1-0 victory.
Despite the win, there was a recurring theme of incompletion that echoed throughout the first 90 minutes. The Wolverines took 12 total shots on net, and eight shots on target, but ended regulation in a scoreless tie. Michigan’s inability to maintain possession in the center-front, coupled with Purdue’s physical defense, put many shots just out of reach of the goal. Purdue goaltender Jordan Ginther was put to work in both the first and second halves, not permitting any attempt to enter the net.
It wasn’t until the sudden death that junior forward Nicky Waldeck was able to break away from Purdue’s defense and put the ball in the back of the net.
“Services, finishing and staying sharp,” Waldeck said. “That’s been the challenge for us this season, is getting goals into the net.”
Added Michigan coach Greg Ryan: “This is a tough game. It’s hard to find goals when you play really good teams. I felt like tonight that the girls were really aggressive taking their chances, and after a game like tonight, I think we just need a little more luck. They’re taking their chances better than they have been all year.”
The Michigan defense did its part to set up the plays and protect the keeper, allowing a total of seven shots on goal. The victory was the Wolverines’ second consecutive shutout. Michigan’s defense controlled the play, and the tempo, setting up the offense to maneuver down the field to the opposing box.
“We always try to be a possessing team, and it really helps that we are really calm on the ball,” said senior defender Christina Murillo. “So we always try to set play, and I think that really helps our attacking line get the ball and get more shots on goal.”
A big part of the reason that the offense was able to take as many shots as it did was the way the defense plays up. But, despite the defense’s hard work, Purdue’s defenders constantly rebuffed the forwards’ attempts.
There were numerous close calls and fouls just outside the box as well, but the Michigan offense just couldn’t get through.
“Purdue is a great team from every line, and we knew that coming into it,” Waldeck said. “Watching film, they’re a hard team, they keep teams in it, and we knew it was going to be a battle — and that’s exactly what it was. We knew we had to be physical and not let up.”
Regardless of the missed opportunities on net, the Wolverines made it their goal at halftime to keep their foot on the gas. Most importantly, Michigan was able to finish when it mattered.